What! No sauna? All 400 Saint Paul firefighters are undergoing cold-water rescue training this month in Como Lake. Tom McDonough, deputy chief of training, says the lake's aerator provides more realistic conditions -- including open water and thin ice. The department carries ice rescue equipment on seven trucks and three rescue squads. Photo: Nile Fellows 
Planning Commission Opposes Historic Status
Saint Paul's Planning Commission voted Dec. 14 against adding the former St. Andrew's church to the city's registry of historical buildings. The Planning Commission's decision clashes with the city's Heritage Preservation Commission, which ruled in November that the former church building -- now owned by Twin Cities German Immersion School -- is eligible for historical designation.

Planning commissioners said broader policies and principles in the city's Comprehensive Plan outweigh the plan's historical criteria. For example, planning commissioners emphasized the value the Comprehensive Plan places on educational institutions, jobs, and investment in the city.

They also expressed fears about establishing a precedent by designating a building despite opposition from the owner, and the potential that designating the former church building could force the school to move, creating vacant buildings in the neighborhood.

"Neighborhood vitality and vibrancy clearly outweigh preserving an individual structure," commissioner Jeff Risberg said in summarizing the position of the Planning Commission's Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee, which recommended opposition. "The potential negative affects of losing the school outweigh the potential benefits of the designation." More details on the Planning Commission debate and what's next
An architect's vision of the school expansion, seen from roughly Como and Oxford.
D10 Board Votes on Variances Tuesday  
The Como Community Council board votes this Tuesday on three variances that Twin Cities German Immersion School needs for its proposed expansion. The council's Land Use Committee is recommending approval of all three: a 3.1-foot variance on height, a 1 percent variance on lot coverage, and a 37-space parking variance.

The meeting, as always, is open to the public, but only elected board members will vote. Representatives from the school and Save Historic St. Andrew's each will have 10 minutes to argue for or against the variances; there will be no other public testimony. The District 10 board will forward its recommendations to the city's Zoning Committee, which considers the variances this Thursday, Dec. 20, beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the Saint Paul City Council chambers. 

The District 10 board also will select nominees for Saint Paul's Neighborhood Honor Roll. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Como Park Streetcar Station., which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. Preliminary meeting agenda
Environment Committee Meets a Week Early  
District 10's Environment Committee meets this Wednesday, Dec. 19 -- one week earlier than usual, in order to avoid holiday conflicts. Among items being discussed: The potential impact on the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom from a proposed off-leash dog area.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station., which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. All renters, homeowners, and other community members are welcome to attend and participate. Once it's available, the preliminary agenda will be posted online.
PaviElle French helps Bring the Sing.
We'll All Have a Dusky Voice  
Wanna experience holiday carols and seasonal songs a different way? Then show up at the Como Lakeside Pavilion next Friday, Dec. 21. It's the winter solstice, days start getting longer, and Classical MPR and The Current celebrate with something they're calling " Bring the Sing."

The free event invites anyone with a voice to join PaviElle French, Jerry Rubino, Dan Newton, Cameron Kinghorn, and potentially hundreds of others in going anything but quietly into the night. And, no, it doesn't matter if you can read music. Plus, Spring Café will open for the evening with snacks and drinks.

Doors open at 5 p.m., singing starts at 6.
George Frideric Handel
Speaking of Singing Along...
Como Park Lutheran Church opens its doors for its annual " Messiah Sing Along" this Sunday, Dec. 16, from 3-5 p.m. Professional soloists perform the recitatives and arias; a chamber orchestra provides the backdrop; and the community is the chorus for selections from Handel's masterpiece. You can bring your own score, or buy one at the door. And, yes, listeners are welcome too. 

Afterward, the congregation hosts an Advent Dinner, from 5-7 p.m. The menu features Swedish meatballs, baked ham, rosemary potatoes, and lefsa. The Sing Along is free; the meal is $8 ($4 for children, $25 maximum for a family). You can, of course, do one without the other. 
Illustration: Camp Wyoming
In the Fullness of Time
Bethel Lutheran Church stages its annual, family-friendly, Living Nativity this Saturday, Dec. 15, from 5:30-8 p.m. outside the church. The 10-minute presentation happens every half-hour. Outdoors, there's also a petting zoo and fire pits; indoors, there's a "first-century marketplace" of crafts and other wares.  The presentation is free (though free-will donations are accepted). Bethel is at Wheelock Parkway and Maywood St.
Conservatory Reveals Music Under Glass
Blues singer Annie Mack opens the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory's 2019 Music Under Glass series. The free concerts run eight Sundays during winter, beginning Jan. 6, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Sunken Garden. Other scheduled performers: Chance York and Big Cats, Pushing Chain, King Wilkie's Dream, Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders, Lydia Liza, Lucy Michelle, and The New Riverside Ramblers.
Thieves Like Shopping, Too
As shopping season heads into the home stretch, add this advice from Saint Paul Police to your list:
  • Don't carry a wallet or purse if you don't have to. Carry only your driver's license or official ID, and only the cash, checks, or credit card you expect to use.
  • Whenever possible, pay by check or credit card.  
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash. To make it tougher on pick-pockets, always stash cash in a front pocket.
  • Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home. If your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused, notify the credit-card issuer immediately.
  • Stay alert to what's going on around you. Don't overload yourself with packages. Maintain clear sight lines and the freedom to move.
  • Be cautious with strangers who approach you for any reason. There is no limit to how con artists try to distract you in hopes of taking your money or belongings.
This Week's Como Neighborhood Crime Update: It almost got quiet for a week.
Spread the Word
District 10 is one of Saint Paul's 17 citizen participation districts. The District 10 Como Community Council is a nonprofit organization, governed by a Board of Directors who are elected by members of the community. The Council's mission is to inform, educate, and connect the neighborhood to increase community pride and confidence. 

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